In an age of more than 3.8 billion social media users, it’s increasingly non-negotiable for brands to have a strong digital presence across the major social platforms. But as social media use has increased, so too have the more nefarious activities on these very public platforms.
First, there’s the spam aspect. According to a 2019 Bromium report, “social media-enabled cybercrimes are generating at least $3.25B in global revenue annually” and “the criminal revenues that are generated by social media-enabled fraud have increased more than 60% since 2017.” Spammers create accounts using platforms like Instagram, then strategically place comments containing ads and links to products and pages that are fraudulent. Many of these malicious accounts comment on the posts of popular businesses and bloggers, sometimes hundreds of times per post. Spam and bot comments also clutter up comments sections, losing authentic engagement in the fray.
Next, there’s an increase in hate speech and racism across social media platforms. Unfortunately, this concerning trend also seems to be going in the wrong direction. The Council on Foreign Regulations shows that 67% of those surveyed in the United States agree that “people should be able to make statements that are offensive to minority groups publicly,” far more than any other developed nation and almost double the global median percentage. Brands shouldn’t be the ones giving racists a megaphone to preach hate on their social media accounts.
So, what are companies to do? Rely on social media giants to regulate toxic comments on their posts? Turn off commenting functions altogether? Hide or delete offensive comments? Below we’ll explore how to best navigate this serious issue and how Respondology can help.
Why Hateful Comments Are Bad for Brands
What does this hostile, offensive, or scammy online culture look like for a popular brand? Let’s use an example of a professional sports team. On game day, the team’s Instagram account pushes out a post in the morning. Within a few hours, there might be hundreds or even thousands of comments.
Among these are the avid fans engaging organically with the post and talking sports via their iPhones and Androids. But racist and hateful comments are also abundant. Then there are the bots with fake comments about get-rich-quick schemes and vulgar sexual remarks. Additionally, there are a few comments with links to illegal TV streaming services.
If the brand refuses to do anything about these offensive comments, it appears that they’ve stopped maintaining their account. All of the fans that are authentically engaging with these Instagram posts become less likely to engage with the team’s future posts – and how do professional sports organizations invite new fans from non-white male communities if their social stream is cluttered with sexually lewd, racist, and anti-LGBTQ slurs?
In turn, this lack of engagement means Instagram’s algorithms keep the team’s posts from reaching their target audiences. Even worse, ignoring inappropriate comments can show that the brand isn’t sensitive to hateful or discriminating content. And keep in mind that the youth population following the team will be exposed to all of this.
Turn Off Commenting, Hide Offensive Comments, or Delete Them?
As brands maintain their digital presence through high-quality Instagram posts, they’re undoubtedly going to see these types of hateful or racist comments on their accounts. Previously, brands might have hired someone to moderate comments on the Instagram app. But monitoring the comments section on every post of a popular brand, often across multiple platforms, is not sustainable long-term since manually removing negative comments is incredibly time-consuming – and it can’t be done effectively during non-business hours when the trolls tend to come out.
Actually, deleting Instagram comments is one of the worst things a brand can do when it comes to successful social media management. Deleting a comment means that it’s permanently removed and no longer visible to anyone, including the account that posted it. This can bring on a tremendous amount of backlash over censorship and may garner a slew of additional comments about the brand’s violation of free speech. It can take a ton of reputation management effort to right this wrong, so it’s best to opt for hiding comments discreetly instead.
Hiding comments means that they’re still visible to the posters, but not to the rest of the post’s viewers. So in our sports team example, inappropriate comments would be hidden from the fans but still visible to the offending accounts. Interestingly enough, this actually discourages these fake or hateful accounts from posting additional negativity on the brand’s page. Hiding comments rather than deleting them has another benefit: the brand can trace offensive content back to the accounts that posted them.
We should also mention that choosing to turn off commenting, which is an optional feature on Instagram, is not the best option for brands. Not only does it discourage authentic engagement with the brand’s posts, but it can harm the brand’s visibility due to Instagram’s algorithms. After all, social media is meant to provide a way for fans to engage with their favorite team or league, which has never been more important than during the COVID era of empty arenas and stadiums.
Hiding Hateful Comments With Respondology
We’ve discussed how difficult it is to keep up with monitoring offensive comments on a brand’s posts. Recently, Instagram rolled out a series of updates that employ AI to flag offensive comments and automatically remove comments that violate the platform’s community guidelines. This functionality extends to offensive Instagram live videos as well. The problem is that not all negative comments (think poor reviews on product posts) go against Instagram’s guidelines.
Respondology is a cutting-edge solution for such issues. The Mod, a discreet and personalized comment moderation tool, is specially designed to allow for engagement metrics to remain the same in real-time, without the toxicity. It automatically hides toxicity from a brand’s social media comments within seconds using both automatic and manual filters. This revolutionary system combines AI keyword filtering with over 1,500 U.S.-based human moderators to quickly and thoroughly cleanse social streams. These keyword filters use specific words, phrases, hashtags, and emojis.
Since Respondology hides rather than deletes comments, trolls, and offending accounts won’t know they’ve been filtered out. Additionally, Respondology users are given complete control over their accounts, including the ability to view the hidden comments, manually hide offensive comments themselves, or adjust filters as needed. The Mod has been shown to save organizations hundreds of hours monthly and since it works 24-7, it monitors the 49% of comments that come in after business hours.
Additionally, The Mod offers features that surpass Instagram’s moderation tool. With Respondology, brands can control and customize what they want to be moderated and what they don’t, rather than turning over those crucial decisions to Instagram’s algorithms. Plus, The Mod is one tool with one user interface spanning all the major social platforms, giving brands the ability to control things from a one-stop-shop.
Respondology is trusted by top brands, including NASCAR, NFL, NBA, and NHL organizations. It protects brands and influencers, helps increase sales, and keeps social media accounts professional and polished. Schedule a demo today to see what Respondology can do for your brand.